Agriculture pushes for higher bio-diesel blend

The Agriculture Department will resubmit to the Office of the Executive Secretary on Tuesday its recommendations to address the low prices of copra in the country.

The recommendations include the higher utilization of coconut methyl ester in bio-diesel and the reduced importation of palm olein which is hurting the local coconut industry.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea asked the department to resubmit its previous recommendations following a brief dialog with Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, the principal author and sponsor of the Biofuels Act of 2006 and the Renewable Energy Act of 2008.

Among the recommendations of the department are to increase the utilization of coconut methyl ester in the bio-diesel program from 2 percent to 5 percent which would hike the use of copra to about  200,000 metric tons and to impose a quantitative restriction on the volume of palm olein imported from Malaysia and Indonesia.

The department said the importation of palm olein surged 900 percent over the last three years.

The transportation and fuel industries, however, shun the increase in biodiesel blend because it would reportedly raise the cost of biodiesel by as much as P0.35 per liter.

“What has not been emphasized, however, is the fact that by using more coconut oil in bio-diesel, the mileage of vehicles increases by about 3 kilometers per liter and improves the air pollution index,” Piñol said.

He also said the imposition of the QR on palm olein would help to cut down imports to protect the local industry.

Piñol said while such a measure was allowed by the World Trade Organization as a trade remedy, it could have a trade backlash with Malaysia and Indonesia.

The department is seeking the insights of the economic managers.

Topics: Department of Agriculture , bio-diesel , copra , coconut methyl ester
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